Twitter is reportedly in talks with broadcaster Turner and leagues NBA and Major League Soccer to buy rights to stream more live sporting events after its ventures into sports streaming with the NFL games it will air this season have seen higher-than-expected interest from advertisers.
Kayvon Beykpour, co-founder of Periscope - Twitter’s livestreaming arm - told an audience at Cannes Lions last month that “other announcements around premium content” outside of the NFL deal were set to be announced in July.
Twitter revealed it was talking to broadcast partners and cable network partners of the leagues back in April, hoping to acquire digital streaming rights straight from the big dogs.
Turner has a sophisticated sport’s offering already in place so it comes as no surprise Twitter is in talks with the broadcaster. The CNN-owner has already acquired sports rights from a number of sources, including the NBA, MLB and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It also has its own eSports league, called Eleague, and broadcasts professional video game competitions.
The challenge for Twitter will be in convincing Turner of the benefits of handing over streaming rights to the social platform. To do this the platform could take a similar approach to its Wimbledon video strategy, where it showed pre-game and post-game footage instead of broadcasting the live event, since ESPN holds those rights. This could work in Twitter’s favour, since it can generate interest around a game or event then leave the broadcasting of the event to the rights holders.
It is not just Twitter interested in building out its live streaming offer; Facebook is in similar talks to position itself as the go-to place for live events as social media giants battle it out to change sports and political broadcasting as we know it. While Twitter was first to the mark, Facebook’s reach is bigger. It makes sense then for Twitter to invest more in fringe broadcasting rather than compete directly with its larger competitor in game rights, but it will likely vie for both.